What the hell was that and can you please make it stop?
2021 was breathless from the outset. It seemed that overnight, people’s patience snapped and an overwhelming urgency took hold. Competition exploded and the lid flew off offer prices like a cat flies off a cucumber. While the penny dropped quickly, it was a problem that had been building for months. For some shocking perspective, look at the number of homes for sale in the Halifax Regional Municipality over the past four years:
- December 2018 | 2,055
- December 2019 | 1,298
- December 2020 | 626
- December 2021 | 214
This represents an inventory decrease on a scale larger than a blue whale. That’s big. What’s more, the number of sales has increased every year. Plummeting inventory and increasing sales. Skyrocketing real estate prices and stagnant wages. Rental demand and housing insecurity. This market is challenging for almost everyone, including sellers. Yes, it is wonderful if you sell your house for $100,000 above the asking price, but if you’ve got nowhere to move, there’s no value great enough to make you want to leave.
From our perspective, it’s not much fun as a REALTOR® either. The number of people who took the Nova Scotia real estate licensing course topped 500 in 2021, more than double that of 2018. Competition in the industry is at an all time high. More REALTORS® are competing for fewer listings and when working with a buyer, they are competing with 10-20 other Realtors who are also trying to win the house for their client. Contrary to popular belief, this is likely one of the most challenging times to be a REALTOR® – Ever. We know you don’t really care about that, so I’ll move on.
This is about you, our clients. It’s about the immense pressure you feel yourself under. Our job is to help our clients make the most of their next move. However, we have no control over the issues of supply and demand, nor the problem of affordability. It’s even worse than the toilet paper shortage of 2020. Nothing will change until there is more housing stock. Unfortunately, I’m not sure where this housing stock is going to come from and even if it does come, it is not going to come fast enough. People from across Canada are flocking to our little province and it is anticipated the population of the Halifax Regional Municipality will hit half a million by 2027. We are already adding the equivalent of a town of approximately 10,000 people each year.
You can look at this in two ways. Either that the people moving here are driving up prices and sucking up resources while causing pain and suffering to the locals. Or that those moving here might possibly be the types of people we need to invest in our province. Housing prices will continue to increase until supply is addressed, but I harbour hope that some of those moving here are skilled tradespeople to assist in building the homes we need. I hope that some of our newcomers are healthcare professionals to help alleviate pressure on the medical system. I hope that others are entrepreneurs to create high paying jobs to make living more affordable. Maybe I’m being optimistic, but we are going to grow regardless. I’d rather be on the side of welcoming new residents who want to invest in a new life here than getting out the pitchfork.
We’ll continue to help people navigate this challenging real estate market in 2022, even if we have no control over what is happening. It’s our job to react to the market and to give our clients all the tools and information they need to make their next move. Here’s to a New Year - We hope it is exceptionally dull, where we all start talking about the weather again.